$13 million is missing from the client accounts of embattled probate attorney Robert Graham, according to the Nevada State Bar. A family is speaking out saying they've been left without money and without answers.
The Lee family says their father's estate should have been a simple case. But it became complicated in the hands of Graham.
Now they feel like they were betrayed by a professional who was supposed to uphold the law and protect family funds.
"It felt like I've been kicked in stomach," says Valerie Lee Weinberg, Wilbur Lee's daughter.
When Lee died in 2000, he left three children grieving for their father. He'd also left them more than half a million dollars, which they expected to see after their stepmother passed away in 2012.
But the siblings tell Contact 13 they never saw a dime of that money.
And every time they emailed or called Graham about their dad's estate, there was always another delay or excuse as to why the money their father intended for them was not going to a trust account.
Then they the got the news earlier this month that Graham is facing serious allegations .
"In a way it was validation of why this was taking so long," Weinberg says.
But now, they're in the dark as to whether there's any money left at all.
"You're in denial. You're angry," Weinberg says. "You want some answers. And there's nobody there to say it's going to be OK. There is no one. We just feel lost."
Graham has declined repeated requests for an on-camera interview, but provided a statement claiming the demise of his firm was due to losses from the recession, as well as overhead including payroll, rent and high advertising costs in an attempt to generate work.
The Lees are simply stunned that a lawyer can get to someone else's money with no oversight in place.
"If it is possible, then something's got to be done so that it's not possible any more," says daughter Caralinda Lee
The District Attorney told us he's meeting with other law enforcement agencies to discuss possible criminal charges.
Graham provided Contact 13 the following statement on Tuesday:
As I have stated before, the losses sustained were substantially related to operations and overhead such as payroll, rent and high advertising costs in an attempt to generate work to overcome deep losses sustained during the recession and over many years before and after. Employees working in good faith were handling valid legal issues with all cases, including the Lois Lee matter, outside of my direct reach and influence. Each matter being handled was being advanced towards closing or being regularly maintained while issues were being resolved (taxes, disputes between heirs, etc.) - even at the detriment to the law firm. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of earned fees and deferred income were being put to work in the law firm to avoid the firm’s collapse, but it simply was not enough to avoid the greater prior losses. The law firm was making income from many of its activities, it simply wasn’t enough to escape the substantial debt of prior years’ losses.
The deep regret and sorrow is real. To the extent any of the prior employees, including myself, are allowed to participate in the recovery effort by authorities, we are. In many instances, that has been direct involvement and direction given by prior employees to the State Bar of Nevada. Full and free access to all records has been given to the State Bar of Nevada. In some cases, those involved have attempted to assist and have been told they should not or that they are interfering. I have instructed all involved to act truthfully and with full disclosure. We all are respecting the work of the State Bar of Nevada and are grateful to the many attorneys who have stepped forward to work for free and in the public’s greater interest to help in this matter.
Many have also stepped forward to assist me personally at this time of great loss of my business, my family and my career. We continue to work towards accountability and with those respecting the need for a neutral and unbiased resolution to the matter, such as the State Bar of Nevada.